Midtown residents oppose Oliver Place condo development

A group of Midtown residents voiced their displeasure with a new proposed development, forcing the developers to potentially reconsider their designs before taking the next steps.

Landowner JBJ Properties LLC of Memphis hosted a public presentation on April 27 at the Cooper-Young Community Association to go over its plans for a new five-condo planned development in the heart of the Cooper-Young district. Residents who live nearby were not happy with the initial designs prompting JBJ to pledge to go back over the next month and reevaluate the designs.

Project representative Michael Fahy, president of Prime Development Group, led the discussion in which residents expressed unhappiness with the overall design and style of the new structure as well as the conversion of some of the property’s green space into a driveway and parking area.

“I don’t want to offend, but honestly those designs are some of most unimaginative, most generic, cookie-cutter things I’ve ever seen, and they don’t even look anything like Midtown,” said Gordon Alexander, founder of the Midtown Action Coalition.

The .29-acre parcel at the corner of Bruce Street and Oliver Street includes 4.25 legal lots. Initial plans called for the construction of one townhome-style building that would include five two-bedroom condominiums with floor plans averaging 1,500 square feet. Renaissance Group Architects created the floor plans, and Blair Parker & Associates handled the property’s landscape design.

When asked if they would prefer duplexes instead, a few residents were receptive to the idea. Others suggested building shotgun-style homes that would match better with others in the neighborhood.

Some people wondered why the owners chose not to rehab the property’s existing bungalow which was built around 1900.

“When these gentlemen bought the house, they spent $16,000 just to get it habitable, but the house has no insulation in the walls, the plumbing is a disaster – it will cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to get foundations fixed and to build the think up,” said Fahey. “It’s simply not viable.”

JBJ had anticipated prices for the Oliver Place condos would start near $215,000.

The project’s application had been scheduled to go before the Land Use Control Board on May 11, but based on the strong objectives heard at the meeting it will be shelved for a month while the developers look at potentially redesigning some or all of the plans.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
Signup for Email Alerts